Latin American cost of living


The Girlfriend and I have a loose list of cities and/or regions in Latin America that we might be interested in relocating to. Most of these are places that I’ve been, but seldom for more than a few days. Everywhere I go, whether a business trip to DC or mushroom hunting in Northern Michigan, I can’t help but wonder “what’s it like to live here?” What’s it like to spent a snowed in winter on Middle Bass Island? What would it have been like to get some friends together and put up a compound in immediate post Katrina NOLA?

Now a long weekend in La Paz, Bolivia is an exhilarating whirlwind of witch markets and mescaline but it doesn’t really give you a feel for day to day life. Well, we’ve decided that 4-6 weeks begins to and that’s what we’re doing. In researching this trip I found that “what’s it cost to live there” was the most common question that I ran across and was seldom answered in any useful way. I hope that by posting our meticulous records I’m providing a service to other transients like me. While I’m keeping records of everything that is spent on this trip, the spreadsheets that I upload to this site are tailored to reflect 30 days worth of daily expenses. I exclude items that last longer than a month (for example, if I buy a pair of sunglasses) and I prorate certain items (which are noted on the sheets). Also, I exclude voluntary tipping. I categorize everything so that if you’re, say, a recovering alcoholic then you can easily omit the amount we’ve spent on booze. You can add up all the meals we’ve eaten out and come up with an average cost of eating out in a given city and know exactly what type of meals that money is getting you. You can use similar math to come up with a representative price of eating in. You can do whatever you want; versatility was my goal.

I run a handful of formulas against the data during the month to keep an eye on our average spending and whether or not we’re on track for our goal, but I delete these when I upload the sheets here so as not to over complicate them. I want the posted sheets to be as close to raw data as possible.

I hope they can be of use. If you have any questions about the sheets, their contents or the information they reflect just post to the summary page for that city (located on the top right) or anywhere else for that matter.


2 Responses to “Latin American cost of living”

  1. E.M Says:


    Just to say THANK YOU for the information you provide. Spreadsheets and Pictures!

    For ANYTHING in this life, there has to be a “beginning/first step.” And it comes to traveling, for me personally, and for many others I suspect, knowing “how much” is just too fundamental for just about any kind of planning.

    That is why your spreadsheets are so USEFUL!

    I am planning to retire to a country in Central or South America. My great advantage is that I was born in one of these countries so I know the language and the culture… so I should not be as shocked as a regular expat might be; but that is something I won’t know for sure until I actually go there and spend some time looking around and to do this I needed to answer the “how much” question since I plan to be there for about six months or longer and probably visit those four countries I mentioned.



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